Baseball fans in Delaware may recognize two players, who played in Wilmington this summer, on the Kansas City Royals roster.
As the Royals take part in their first World Series since 1985, fans of the Wilmington Blue Rocks have extra reason to cheer them on. The team’s roster includes 11 players who at one time played for the Royals’ Advanced-A affiliate in Wilmington.
“People tend to forget our connection to the Royals because [Kansas City] is so far away, and the Royals have been out of the picture for so long, but all of a sudden, they’ve kind of turned into a mini version of America’s team,” said Matt Janus, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Rocks.
The Royals have a relatively low payroll compared to other teams who were in the playoff hunt and that means the team is more dependent on scouts and affiliates clubs to develop talent.
“They are really homegrown, it’s impressive the way they’ve built the organization through the draft and their scouting system,” Janus said. “The rest of the baseball world is getting an opportunity to see what we’ve known for a while: these are sharp guys, they know what they’re doing.”
Gore and Finnegan
Fans who attended Blue Rocks games this summer may have seen Terrance Gore and Brandon Finnegan take the field at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. Both are now on the Royals roster.
Janus said it’s not often that players make the jump from a Carolina League team like the Rocks to the big leagues in just one season, and especially on a World Series-caliber team. “It’s very rare to go in one season from Advanced A to Major League Baseball, [you] almost never see it.”
It’s a major change for a player like Gore, who was riding on a bus overnight for more than ten hours to an away game. “A guy I was siting across from on a bus, and you know the minor league travel style is certainly not the most luxurious in the world … this guy who was sitting less than six feet away from me all summer long on all these arduous trips is now playing, trying to win a World Series,” Janus said. “It’s kind of remarkable.”
Besides Gore and Finnegan, the other former Rocks on the Royals World Series roster are Mike Moustakas (2009), Greg Holland (2008), Salvador Perez (2010), Jarrod Dyson (2008, 2010), Christian Colon (2010), Eric Hosmer (2010), Kelvin Herrera (2011), Danny Duffy (2009, 2010), and Yordano Ventura (2012).
The power of the World Series
While they’re rooting for the Royals to win it all, leaders in the Blue Rocks front office are also looking forward to some extra interest in the Wilmington team thanks to the World Series run by the parent club.
“I think it’s going to help us next year. You’re going to see a lot of interest in, not just the pomp and circumstance of coming to a Blue Rocks game, but the actual baseball on the field,” Janus said.
The team hosted a pair of game-watching parties at Frawley Stadium during the playoffs. More than 100 people attended each party, another surreal moment for the team.
“If I had told you three months ago that I was going to call a party to watch a Royals game at Frawley Stadium and invite people out, I wouldn’t have guessed that more than 100 people would show up, but that’s the power of a deep playoff run and that’s the power of the World Series,” Janus said.